- When can we no longer leave our loved one alone?
- When do we take away the car keys?
- When do we prohibit the use of power tools – or any tools?
- When do we install security or tracking?
- And when, or if, do we move our loved one to an assisted living home for memory care?
These are decisions when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s that we don’t want to make. It’s too much responsibility and control over another adult.
We’d rather not be in this position, but here we are, and the alternative is to wait until a terrible accident occurs, harming or taking the life of our loved ones, ourselves, or an innocent by-stander. It takes courage to do what we know is right in our loved one’s best interest.
Caregiving to a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease cripples our intellectual decision-making. We’re exhausted and so emotionally tied to our loved one. Our sensitivity overrides what we would easily know under other circumstances. It’s not unusual to be in denial or unable to make a change until something catastrophic happens.
When a loved one wanders off and is missing, causes a car accident, seriously harms themselves, or we are too ill to care for them, we are forced to make a move. And the situation gives us the excuse to do what we need but at a high cost.
Most often, what we fear does not come to be. We are projecting how the person we knew would react, not the one they’ve become. I dreaded taking the car keys from Marshal. I expected him to be furious and refuse to cooperate because he doesn’t understand his limitations. However, after one initial blow-up, he accepted me driving him with little-to-no resistance.
I’ve written previously on how, after ten years of home care, I moved Marshall to a memory care home when I was too ill to continue caring for him. According to my physician, I wouldn’t survive if I continued any longer. Statistics say that 63% of senior spousal caregivers die before the one they care for, and I could have been one of them.
Although I knew I was overwhelmed, I believed placing Marshall in a memory care community would be devastating for him. I didn’t believe he was ready, thought that he would deteriorate more rapidly, and never forgive me. I believed it was my spousal duty to care for him. I also knew that the longer he was in a care facility, the sooner our money would run out.
I still wish he could be with me, but in truth, Marshall has done well in his new home. He has activities and peers. He’s content with the routine and simplified lifestyle. And I can be more of a wife, there to provide the love, that only I can, and care for him along with a 24/7 team.
The decisions we must make are extensive and complicated. But there is a basic guideline we can use. We can seriously consider the health and safety of both us and our loved one.
Honestly, I have to admit that by the time I moved Marshall, he wasn’t safe as he was wondering out the door at all hours and falling down the stairs. And I certainly wasn’t safe or healthy.
It takes courage to make all the daily decisions necessary for our loved one. I pray for you to receive the guidance you need and the strength to act on it.
(Navigating Alzheimer’s. 12 Truths about Caring for Your Loved One is available from amazon.com, ACTA Publications, and my website.)
Thank you for your openness to share your personal journey so that others may learn from your story. Sometimes it is enough to just know that you are not alone…that others are walking your walk. May God continue to bless you and your husband with his love and mercy.
Thank you for commenting, Bernadette. It’s always good to hear from you and your perspective. God bless you!
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